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Is there anything wrong with having a faith?
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Angel of Light
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Old May 31, 2010, 12:08 AM Local time: May 31, 2010, 01:38 AM #1 of 16
Is there anything wrong with having a faith?

I've been on this forum long enough, that I should know better than putting up a topic like this. Its actually been a topic that's been on my mind for a long time. I just want to put forward my apologies because this post is probably going to be a little long. I tend to stay away from issues concerning politics, social ethics, and theology because I don't have a lot of knowledge regarding this subject, but I guess wanted to get people's input, impressions, insults and what have you about this.

I might as well provide a little back-story. I was baptized as a child, and I pretty much grew up as a Roman Catholic my entire life. My parents especially my mom is very religious. I grew up throughout life going to a roman catholic elementary school, getting my first communion, first confession, and my first confirmation. Our parents made us go to church every Saturday evening even though my siblings never wanted to, but I never had any problems going to church right up until my college years.

After my siblings became teenagers, it was only my mom and I that use to go to church. For a while my mom didn't go, and I use to always bring my nan to church and that lasted until I finished university.

I grew up in life always having this strong sense of faith. I use to say my prayers every night before I went to bed as a child. I went to church with little to no complaint because I believed that it was the right thing to do.

I don't consider myself a hardcore Roman Catholic, but to be honest with the belief system I have right now I don't even think I should even refer to myself as a roman catholic. I'll tell you why in a little bit.

One thing I noticed especially growing up, in my teenage years, is that as religious as I thought I was, I never took religion too seriously. To be honest I've never read the bible from start to finish, and I never took the stories of the bible as factual events. To me they were just stories. When I was a teenager I use to go to these weekend catholic camps, but going to these events made me incredibly uncomfortable with a lot of other people that believed that they were special and God loved them because somebody told them so.

The things they made us do, and the little social events they set up were pretty stupid from my opinion. Even though I started to reject my own religion little by little, I still had a faith, I still had this belief that god existed, or not necessarily god but some kind of spiritual entity.

Pretty much going through university, I distanced myself more and more away from religion but I still had a faith. I still believed that something existed that could never be explained because I used my faith and my belief that there was a greater power at work as a way of getting me through the tough times I had in life.

Even finishing up university, I had always told myself that I will always accept scientific fact over religion. That in itself makes me a hypocrite, because how can I accept scientific fact over religion, when I have in faith in something that can't be scientifically proven.

Lets fast forward to right now. When I finished university I started working, the majority of my friends were atheist, agnostic, or pagans. To be honest, I actually enjoyed hanging out with these people more than some of my other friends who were really religious and telling me that god loves me, and all that other bullshit. I didn't want to hear it, I didn't need god's love to get through life, my life was in my own hands.

Then I eventually met the woman I was going to spend the rest of my life with. Initially she was a pagan, but now she is an Apatheist. The concept of religion is something we've always debated ever since we've been together. I wasn't going to let religion ever get in the way of me loving somebody, when we got married she was still a pagan at the time, and a priest wouldn't marry to her, so fuck it, I got married by a justice of the peace.

My wife all the time is always showing documentaries, websites, atheist podcasts, and things along those lines to get me (from my own opinion) to reject religion all together. From everything about the inaccuracies of the bible, to how better off the world would be without religion.

Despite the fact that I agree with her, with how horrible religion has influenced society I can't help it that I still have a faith in something that probably doesn't exist. It pretty much sounds like that I'm using my own faith as a crutch to get me through the tough times in life when I have nobody to turn to.

I believe in the separation of church and state. I don't think religion should play such an important role in society in such its telling people how to think and what to believe in. Every individual person should made their own choice of what they want or don't want to believe in.

Despite various religions have caused more wars and death and destruction. I don't believe that every aspect of religion is bad. I recall going through life and never ever hearing my priest or school promote hatred or persecution.

Despite I grew up as a roman catholic, I am pro-choice, and I support gay-marriage, I support equality, and freedom of speech because I believe its morally right. The biggest thing that I learned through religion as a child, is to always respect the other person, regardless of skin color, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or belief system.

Going back to how I can't really call myself a Roman Catholic. My wife made a very good argument. If I believe in a god, or higher power, but I don't believe in any of the stories of the bible I can't really call myself a roman catholic now can I. To be honest I don't even know what I should be, in terms of what I believe in.

To be honest, I believe that religion and especially Christianity deserves to be challenged. Despite me, having a faith, I don't tell anybody what they should believe in. I keep my faith and belief system to myself. There is no right or wrong way especially when it comes to your spirituality if you have one or not.

I'm getting sick and tired, of my atheist friends and my wife giving me grief because I have a faith. I believe in something that probably doesn't exist. Regardless, I got a 50/50 shot of whether or not some spiritual entity exists. I got a better chance of knowing that something exists after death than what I do winning the lottery.

I'm getting sick and tired of hearing that everybody who worships religion is automatically a bigot and an uneducated person and that they can't think for themselves. My parents are hardcore Roman Catholics, but I think they did a good job of raising me.

I don't even know on this forum how many people believe in a religion. To be honest I think there are a lot of atheists out of this entire group. I remember reading Encephalon's story about how he gave up believing in his religion. With the hell that he went through, he was well within his right to stop believing.

I'm would like to think that I'm not trying to defend religion, because I'm not. To be honest being a roman catholic in my province comes with a great shame especially because of these incidents:

Mount Cashel Incident

Bishop Lahey
- This was the bishop that confirmed me when I was 16.

In conclusion, I'm not Lordsword, I'm nowhere close to as delusional as what that person is. Can any good come out of having a religious faith. I keep my beliefs to myself and never tell anybody how they should live their life. When I die, I'll be cremated and have a religious ceremony, but I'm struggling with what I believe in and the repercussions that come with it. I have a faith because I feel comfortable with that choice, and my morality and my belief system does not make me any better or any worse than anybody else.

Thanks for reading a really long entry, and I hope Crash answers because I've had good talks with him about this before.

Take Care Everybody.

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Old May 31, 2010, 12:23 AM Local time: May 30, 2010, 11:23 PM #2 of 16
I think the question is better phrased "is there something damaging to a society in a mass delusion." Obviously faith for you hasn't damaged you. It's gotten you through some hard times. I don't think any rational human being would sit here and condemn a person of faith for their belief on a personal level. If you keep your faith to yourself and use it in a rational way, you don't harm anyone.

However, belief, delusion as it were, on a large scale is at its best disruptive and at its worst destructive. No one worries about the belief of one man, but when millions start believing in a faith that leads to the massive spread of AIDS in Africa (no condoms for catholics) there can be an issue. When the huge majority of anti-gay advocates do so on religious grounds, there's a problem. Faith retards progress. It is scared of change and horrified of answers to the questions it once was the sole answer to.

Angel, you're a smart man. You've heard the intellects on this, I'm sure. The issue is that A) you're dealing with it on a personal level and B) you're dealing with a hypocrite when you discuss it. A pagan has no legs to stand on when attacking religions. One crazy illogical belief is as crazy as any other. Religion is religion. Some just have more history. What you really need to ask yourself is whether or not you feel religion has a place in the modern world. I don't think it does. I think it's a haven for hatred and backward thinking individuals yearning for a world that never really existed.

It's not so much a matter of is there anything wrong with it, as much is there anything right with it? You stated it's a crutch for you in your life. But if you know it's false, and wrong, and often destructive, is it really a crutch? Or is it just the framework you've built your own self-motivation within? You got past issues in your life by going to religion, even though you state you see the holes within it. I don't think you needed the religion. I think you just needed a way to put perspective on what you're dealing with. And that's fine, but the upsides clearly don't balance out.

Is religion the root of all evil? No, but it's certainly a wonderful place for some of the most ignorant of us to hide and flourish. I'm with Maher on this one. I just don't see what it gives us except a way to lie to ourselves.

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Old Jun 13, 2010, 10:10 PM Local time: Jun 13, 2010, 08:10 PM #3 of 16
There's nothing wrong with believing that higher powers exist, just like there's nothing wrong with believing that life is worth living. You can't prove these beliefs, they are personal judgements that may be scientifically indefensible but are quite valuable to those that hold them.

It's only a socially "bad" thing when people use it to do harm. If you tell someone that their life is so valuable they shouldn't ever end it, even if they're in horrible pain and have no chance of recovery, that is abusing the widely-held belief that life is worth living. We all know how easily the human desire to find or interact with higher powers has been abused.

I don't think you should categorically throw out something just because some people have abused it.


I wasn't brought up Christian, but I liked to read a lot as a young child and came about a vague concept of God and stuck with it because there is something about it that appeals to me. I still hold the belief that God exists. I don't feel like I need it, and probably wouldn't feel like such an outcast sometimes if I didn't have it (some of my friends can be a bit militant about their atheism) but it's a very deep part of me that I think would be painful to cut out, and I don't want to do that. I don't think anyone has the right to guilt or pressure me into changing something about myself that I like and that doesn't hurt them. (Also I automatically feel defensive when someone thinks they know what's best for me and to change me, but that's another issue.)

This thing is sticky, and I don't like it. I don't appreciate it.
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Old Jul 7, 2010, 08:54 PM Local time: Jul 7, 2010, 10:24 PM 1 #4 of 16
From what recall you said you enjoyed our debates on religion ect. Guess I heard wrong.

It seems to me that you are in limbo, you believe and don't believe at the same time. Religion to you is acting like a little gremlin on your back, you want it gone, but it's always been there, and you can't seem to live without it. You where raised with religion, and rejecting something that is so ingrained into your head is hard to do, (The last few chapters of 1984 demonstrates this perfectly) which is why I still think religion can be a form of brainwashing.

There has never been anything 'wrong' in having a faith providing you practice what you preach for yourself, but what bugs me is there are people who are being kind for their own selfish reasons, to find favor in god and get to heaven. Morality existed before religion did, which is why I will continue to disagree with the phrase "I am a good person because of religion"

I can understand the appeal of heaven, we all want to keep going after we die, but realistically... I don't think there is anything, which is why I am not going to waste my life praying, living in guilt, and reading on how god judges me. Chances are this life is all I got, so I am going to live it to the fullest.

If 'faith' or 'god' gets you though the day, fine, but I still say that you are not a catholic, you're way to0 liberal

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Old Jul 7, 2010, 09:43 PM Local time: Jul 7, 2010, 08:43 PM #5 of 16
I find that religion is a very good way for people find solace in what they recognize as a pattern. "I prayed, and something good happened, therefore, there must be a God. Plus, the Bible proves it." Well, The Da Vinci Code said Jesus had kids. No, no, it's true. Dan Brown said so.

The problem with the Bible is that God didn't have a direct hand in writing it, and neither did Jesus for that matter. The Bible is, at best, "Inspired by Actual Events". It's a series of unauthorized biographies, the greater majority of which we don't even recognize because we happen to like these four over the others.

Oddly enough, i go to a Christian University (yeah yeah say what you will, it's fully accredited and in the AUCC) and the thing that made me realize i didn't have a faith was taking religion courses here. After i realized what was happened i asked one of my profs if maybe i was interpreting the lectures wrong he just looked at me and said i had "found what i was supposed find to in the Bible".

Most of the professors here have given me a speech similar to Shepherd Book's line in the Firefly Episode Jaynestown "You don't fix religion, it fixes you". Basically, the objective of this brand of Christianity i've chosen to associate with comes with a mission statement amounting to "find your own way through thinking critically about what you see and read" and ultimately to "live for peace". If you can do that second part, then you are living out the essence of what Jesus taught, and doing it better than a lot of Christians out there. Then the people who really need that supernatural crutch to structure themselves on can get together every once and a while and reinforce a strong, yet inoffensive faith in an ideal state of the universe.

Basically what i've found through my experience here is that Einstein was right:

[quote: Einstein, from Wikiquote]# The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed. It was the experience of mystery — even if mixed with fear — that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds: it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity. In this sense, and only this sense, I am a deeply religious man.[/quote]

This is just one of the many quotes Einstein has on this topic. What you can get from this is an understanding regarding inspiration as the greatest thing we can grasp and use. The concept of a God can really drive people to be better people, but that's a touchy area to go to, as people who are easily influenced in their beliefs can be led astray by corrupt or ignorant people calling themselves "leaders" or be misled into a false understanding of the Bible.

But you (Angel) are not the only person who's felt like this, obviously. One of my favourite theologians was a borderline Atheist and prominent critic of relgion. Ernst Troeltsch wrote many papers and articles which can be summed up as "The Bible is problematic because of a human sense of Dogma. Only once we remove the Bible from the Dogmatic Pedestal we've put it on and expose this antiquated work to science and historical context we will bring the Bible into the realm of reality where we can better apply it to the real world and better understand what it means.

So basically, it's not wrong to have a faith. I'm pretty sure there's something out there, but i can't claim to have any answers, so i'm by definition an Agnostic, which sounds like where you're coming from.

I was speaking idiomatically.
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Old Jul 24, 2010, 01:02 PM Local time: Jul 25, 2010, 02:02 AM #6 of 16
No it's not wrong to have faith.

I don't think it's right for you to be ostracized for having some faith. Your belief system is your choice and since you haven't others' beliefs influence the way you treat them, why should their outlook affect yours in a large way?

There's a difference between having faith and being deeply religious I believe. Much more people have faith but are not as religious. You are not alone in this regard.

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Old Aug 5, 2010, 01:44 PM Local time: Aug 5, 2010, 11:44 AM 1 #7 of 16
Organized religion is closer to a cult than it is a function based on faith alone. The church has more politics and beauracracy plastered with red tapes than a simple small-city counsel would.

Faith, on the other hand, is purely a spiritual belief (in my book, at least), and it is not the actions or the talk people try to walk that defines them as a person. The "Athiest" Angel of Light describes in his opening post only paints a picture of him being surrounded by people who are imposing their religious beliefs. Yes, as contrary to popular belief, Athiesm is a religion: In a nutshell, Atheist are groups of people who acclaim in the belief that there is no spiritual entity, period. They have group meetings, life-style rules, and propoganda encircling around this "belief" of theirs. Like it or not, by definition of "religion," Atheism is a completely legitimate and stand-alone religion on its own in this regard.

Going back to the topic of faith, in separation of religious functions. Religious gatherings and all cultural/religious/church/social functions that exist, simply exist for the matter of socially and culturally conditioning those included in it. If anything, it functions as framework for model behaviour in a society. Once you're a grown adult, I think you should have enough brains and logic to decide for your own if you choose to follow that model based on your own belief/faith or if you choose to follow a separate way of life modeled by something else--whether that be another religion or just your own antics, is entirely up to you.

I'll use myself as an example::
I claim to be Buddhist. I certainly am not religious. I'm not against the Bible (as in, I don't go rioting against those who decide to believe in it whole-heartedly), but I choose not to believe in those stories. As a child, I went to a Catholic pre-school, a Buddhist Japanese Kindergarten, and a Judeo-Christian After-school Japanese school everyday from 1st through 6th grade, where they made us recite one Bible passage 10 minutes a day. As an adult though, having wandering through various options to subscribe to a certain belief, I came to the conclusion that what religion or faith I choose to stick with is entirely up to me. I liked the lifestyle beliefs of Buddhism the most, so that is where I chose to take my model of faith/belief structure.

By no means, I am religious. I abhorr the idea of trying to convert anyone to my religion (although I will, very enthusiastically welcome you to any Buddhist function you say you are interested in taking a peek at--there's no harm in you coming to enjoy my festivities). I don't recite chants at any point of my daily life, nor do I go to Church (or temple, for you sticklers) every Sunday. However, in faith alone, if anyone so chooses to question me, I would say that there is a possibility of a spiritual entity that guides one, but I don't believe that it is an all-mighty powerful God. In my personal opinion, if there is such a God, It has as much to do with me as much as how fast my hair grows. God has a responsibility to ensure the wind blows and the Earth continues to spin. All the rest of the stuff that happens on Earth; It is as much parental in a way that It can only observe life on earth. (I refer to God as "It" for the most part because I think it associates God being too close to humans when you describe such entity with calling it as "Him/Her.")
As far as my own lifestyle though, I feel that for myself, my way of life and my faith is best framed by the virtues of a dude who, some 2600 years ago, looked at his own Hindu faith and said, "dude, this is whack." It's just more tangible to me than the Bible is in my view. All he did was pass down virtues of life that he thought were important principles--and for a lot of good reasons, are bare-bone commen sense things that some people nowadays take for granted. I will not parade around saying that my religion is the most sensible one nor that it is superior to others--I like it because it fits my lifestyle very well, and I find the virtues and framework for both spirituality and morality in line with what I believe in.


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Old Aug 5, 2010, 03:34 PM Local time: Aug 5, 2010, 02:34 PM 2 #8 of 16
I have to, respectfully, disagree with you about atheism being a religion, Shorty. A lifestyle, sure, but not a religion. By the strictest dictionary definition, sure, as it is a group of people who think in a certain way, have agreed on something they believe in and generally go about their business. By that definition Jedi is a religion, but I don't think anyone really buys into that. But what atheism lacks is the ritual devotion to a set of beliefs.

Let's take a moment and say I agree with you on this. The god of atheism, then, would be science. The difference between my god, and say, the christian god, would be that their god claims a knowledge of all things, and wants you to adhere to a moral code. whereas mine is fluid, changes as proof is offered and generally doesn't have a strict set of moral codes at all.

However, science uses doubt as a prerequisite for belief. The whole point of atheism is that when new information that can be quantified is brought to light, perspective shifts. There is no set rules of belief that must be true. Every ounce of atheism is fluid, so long as there is proof. I think, at the core, most atheists are just agnostics who feel the burden of proof concerning god/spirits/elves/everything Conan Doyle believes in/Whatever the fuck bullshit pagans hypocritically buy into has pretty much been fulfilled. Actual religions use doubt as an obstacle. Sure, it's okay to have doubts. So long as you don't act on them. If catholics went around trying to test every point of God the way scientists do science, just to punch holes in it, they would not be popular at the church picnic.

If you want to place every group who has a shared set of beliefs together under the umbrella of 'religion', we have to buy into furries and other things Miles likes as a religion. I'm not prepared to make that leap.

Short form: It lacks the rigid belief structure to be a religion.

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Old Aug 5, 2010, 04:42 PM Local time: Aug 5, 2010, 03:42 PM #9 of 16
Depends, Deni. You follow what is considered to be the core philosophy of what science is and as it extends towards atheism into what is more or less the standard atheism that people of that inclination tend to adopt.

There is, however, a form of atheism that eschews the sense of humility and replaces with almost dogmatic certainty in the power and scope of science and its ability to describe and prescribe for how the universe and its denizens operate.

This would be what some have called New Atheism, of its most widely read proponents are Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. Not only are they critics of religion, but they seek to supplant religion as the overarching authority which also includes morality, for some odd reason. Unfortunately, this mode of atheism has proven attractive and though still a minority, its numbers have given it enough voice to become the image of what most people "think" atheism is today.

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Old Aug 5, 2010, 05:55 PM Local time: Aug 5, 2010, 03:55 PM #10 of 16
Originally Posted by Angel of Light
My wife all the time is always showing documentaries, websites, atheist podcasts, and things along those lines to get me (from my own opinion) to reject religion all together. From everything about the inaccuracies of the bible, to how better off the world would be without religion.
Not trying to be disrespectful of ChibiNeko or anything, but Deni, the actions of above is no different than those guys in those white collar shirts and black ties and annoying bicycles trying to stuff the Morman Book of the New Testament down my Buddhist throat.

I will consider your argument valid, but I have this silly little belief that if one rallies together with allies against a certain idea based on their belief, whether it be the existance or non-existance of a god, then I have enough basis to consider you as subscribing to the "religion of not believing in God." That's how I see Athiests. If not sanctioned enough to say it's a religion, then I will hold my front that any organization claiming Athiesm would be a cult, at least.

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Old Aug 5, 2010, 06:56 PM Local time: Aug 5, 2010, 05:56 PM 1 #11 of 16
His wife isn't an atheist, she's a pagan.

Which makes her position laughable.

And Dull, as much as I think that Hitchens and Dawkins go too far, I certainly prescribe to the James Randi/Penn & Teller form of atheism that says you have the right to be religious if you want, but don't expect me to act like it isn't intellectually laughable to do so. It's lazy, it's a crutch, and it has no place in the running of a country. Whatsoever. I have a lot of religious friends, but I still roll my eyes if they talk about hearing god speak to them, or about a small miracle in their life. There comes a time when you have to draw a line in the sand and say on this side of the land, we think hearing voices in your head and letting that dictate your actions is fucking insane.

In short, the fact a huge number of people in North America vote along religious dogma rather than issues is horrific.

P.S.

Shorty, does that mean that people who rally against flat earthers and young earthers are a cult, simply because they have overwhelming empirical evidence?

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Old Aug 5, 2010, 07:16 PM Local time: Aug 5, 2010, 08:46 PM #12 of 16
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Sorry Deni, she use to be pagan, it should of been something I should of mentioned before hand. She is actually an APATHIEST.

I just don't understand why people can't just keep their beliefs to themselves. Deni, is right religion has no right to run a country. Sure I have a faith, but I also believe in ghosts which are not scientifically proven anyway. Old values have no right to influence civil rights. We should all be allowed to live in this world without persecution and believing what we want to believe. I just don't understand why especially Christianity feels the need to tell us that we adopt their doctrine in order to live a successful life.

It bothers me, how much people will abandon common sense just to believe in a religion in order to live a prosperous life before and after death. Are people really that scared to die?

I never want to see people pushed into a direction they don't want to believe in.

Also Shorty, I kind of misconstrued my words; I don't think my wife is trying to get me to reject my faith, because watching all these Atheist podcasts are actually pretty funny especially to see how gullible some people are. I don't believe that all Christians are bad people, I'm sure there are people that want to keep their religious beliefs to themselves, and I truly wish it was like that, but its not.

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Old Aug 6, 2010, 11:42 AM Local time: Aug 6, 2010, 09:42 AM #13 of 16
Shorty, does that mean that people who rally against flat earthers and young earthers are a cult, simply because they have overwhelming empirical evidence?
Where on Earth are these people, because it would be quite entertaining to see them now. Oh wait, Bill Maher featured them in his Religulous movie, didn't he. That was entertaining.


And no, I don't necessarily think ALL athiests should be grouped into how I described as a group of people associated with an organized function (such that, it counts as either a cult/religious group). I agree those who take the Bible seriously to the point of rejecting evolution and simple science--that is beyond "faith," and just something else entirely.

Sorry, I didn't mean to stray the discussion and we're off on a tangent.

I was speaking idiomatically.
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Old Aug 6, 2010, 12:34 PM Local time: Aug 6, 2010, 11:34 AM 2 #14 of 16
Okay, but if you follow the bible literally of course you reject simple science and evolution. You have to. Rejecting the supernatural aspects of religion doesn't make you a "rational" religious person, it makes you somewhat worse.

If a person has the logic to know that this amount of the book is clearly bullshit, turning around and saying "but I still believe" makes them worse than the people who are just too ignorant to know any better. It's lazy, and it's pointless. If you don't buy the supernatural rubbish inherent to all religions, your only point for faith has to be a certain moral conduct, and you don't need religion or a faith for that. All you need is a personal code of conduct, and you don't need to believe in ancient spirits, an invisible sky dad, or alien souls in volcanoes to be a decent human being. The only other possible reason is hedging your bets, and saying "well if I die, I'd rather believe and be wrong than not believe and be wrong." And that's not really faith. That's fear.

If a person is smart enough to know the book is full of lies and falsehoods, a person is smart enough to know that maybe the core part is fake, too. No one needs a religion to tell them to be a decent person. What's the Dogma comment? I'd rather have an idea than a belief? Ideas can change, beliefs are fixed. Faith elevates concepts beyond the point of rational debate and turns them into a matter of life and death. That's not constructive.

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Old Aug 7, 2010, 09:48 PM Local time: Aug 7, 2010, 08:48 PM 1 #15 of 16
I'm of the belief people can be spiritual but religion and its dogma are just unnecessary. Especially when proponents of many major religions spout hateful shit and keep us from progression. Bigoted Christians (especially Catholics) are at the top of my shit list. I will never understand how followers of a hippie who preached love for everyone could be so damned regressive.
You know who is "spiritual but not religious"? Guys in University named Trent. And Trent is a fucking douchebag.

FELIPE NO


John Mayer just asked me, personally, through an assistant, to sing backup on his new CD.

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